Categories News & Updates

Final Rule Reverts H-1B “Specialty Occupation” to Previous USCIS Standard

On October 8, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) titled “Strengthening the H-1B Non-Immigrant Visa Classification Program”. The IFR previously revised and narrowed the regulatory definition of and raised the standards for “specialty occupation” for H-1B nonimmigrant visa applicants.

On December 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a judgment that blocked the implementation and enforcement of the IFR. In compliance with the vacatur, USCIS has vacated the IFR and restored the previous definition of and standard for the “specialty occupation” requirement.

Under the IFR, H-1B applicants were required to obtain a bachelor’s degree in the exact field related to their position. For example, under the rule, employers seeking software engineers would not be allowed to hire applicants with an information technology degree. Nor would they be allowed to use experience or a combination of experience and education as a bachelor’s degree equivalency. Now that the IFR has been vacated, applicants can satisfy “specialty occupation” by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to their profession, or a work experience equivalency.

If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair attorney.

Categories News & Updates USCIS

USCIS To Suspend Biometrics Requirements for Certain I-539 Applicants

From May 17, 2021, USCIS will suspend the biometrics requirements for the H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2 and E-3 categories of Form I-539 applications. The suspension will be for at least 2 years. USCIS will retain the discretion to require biometrics on a case-by-case basis.

The suspension will apply if: 1) the application is pending as of May 17, 2021 and a biometrics appointment notice has not been received; or 2) the application is received by USCIS between May 17, 2021 and the expiration date of the suspension.

USCIS has expressed an intention to eliminate the current backlog and to significantly reduce delays in processing times for these applications. The proposal came in a declaration from USCIS Service Center Operation Directorate Associate Director Connie L. Nolan in the pending federal case Edakunni v. Mayorkas.

If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair attorney.

Categories News & Updates USCIS

USCIS Announces Final Filing Fee Adjustments

Effective October 2020, USCIS will implement fee adjustments for certain immigration and naturalization benefit applications. One of the most notable adjustments is that Form I-129 is no longer a uniform rate. Rather, the fee will depend on the type of non-immigrant status. For example, the I-129 fee for an H-1B is changing to $555, while the I-129 fee for an L-1 is now $805.

 

Along with the proposed fee adjustments, USCIS will also be extending the time to adjudicate premium processing petitions from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.

 

Additionally, Adjustment of Status (I-485) applicants seeking an Employment Authorization Document and an Advanced Parole document will be required to pay a separate fee for each application and each renewal. A separate part of the I-485 fee adjustment removes the fee discount for minor children under 14 years; their cases will now require the full I-485 filing fee.

 

The fee changes for certain immigration and naturalization applications are below:

 

Immigration Benefit RequestCurrent FeeFinal FeeChange ($)
I-129 (H-1B)$460$555+$95
I-129 (L-1)$460$805+$345
I-129 (O)$460$705+$245
I-140$700$555-$145
I-539$370$400+$30
I-765 (EAD)$410$550+$140
I-131 (Advance Parole)$575$590+$15
I-485 (Adjustment of Status)$1,140$1,130-$10
N-400 (Naturalization)$640$1,170+$850

 

Please contact your Graham Adair representative with any questions.

Categories News & Updates USCIS

USCIS to Lift Premium Processing Suspension in Phases in June 2020

On May 29, 2020, USCIS announced that the temporary suspension on premium processing requests for eligible Form I-140 employment-based immigrant petitions?such as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 petitions, and eligible Form I-129 nonimmigrant worker petitions?such as H-1B, O-1, TN, L-1, and E-3 petitions, will be lifted in phases during June 2020.

 

Back on March 20, 2020, USCIS had temporarily suspended new premium processing requests for eligible Form I-140 and Form I-129 petitions. As a result of the suspension, Form I-140 and Form I-129 petitions (normally eligible for premium processing) could only be filed with regular processing from the date of suspension. Regular processing entails a much lengthier processing time of several months, as opposed to the 15-day processing time that premium processing provides.

 

Based on the May 29, 2020 announcement, USCIS will resume accepting premium processing requests (Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service) for eligible petitions in the following phases in June 2020:

 

Phase 1 (June 1, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Eligible Form I-140 Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for eligible Form I-140 petitions on/after this date.

 

Phase 2 (June 8, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Certain Pending I-129 Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for pending cap-exempt Form I-129 H-1B petitions filed prior to June 8, 2020.

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all other eligible, Form I-129 non-H-1B petitions (such as O-1, TN, L-1, E-1, and E-2) filed prior to June 8, 2020.

 

Phase 3 (June 15, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Certain New/Recent Cap-Exempt H-1B Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for certain, cap-exempt H-1B petitions not filed prior to June 8, 2020, which includes premium processing requests for cap-exempt H-1B petitions due to cap-exempt employer; beneficiary is cap-exempt due to qualifying cap-exempt institution, entity or organization; or?the beneficiary is cap-exempt under INA section 214(l) based on a Conrad/IGA waiver.

 

Phase 4 (June 22, 2020): Resumption of Premium Processing for Cap-subject H-1B Petitions and All Other Form I-129 Petitions

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for H-1B cap-subject petitions (includes cap-subject H-1B petitions that were selected in the registration lottery in March 2020).

 

  • USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all other Form I-129 petitions that are eligible for premium processing.

 

For any pending or new Form I-140 or Form I-129 petition, the above filing date restrictions must be considered for any premium processing request as USCIS will reject a premium processing request that is not timely made within the above constraints.

 

Graham Adair will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates here as they become available. If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair representative.

Categories USCIS

USCIS to Resume Services at Local Offices on June 4th

USCIS plans to reopen certain offices and resume non-emergency services on Thursday, June 4, 2020. The agency temporarily closed offices and suspended in-person services on March 18th to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

New safety measures will be implemented once offices reopen, including requiring visitors to wear facial coverings when entering buildings, providing hand sanitizer at entry points, and limiting early visitor arrival to no more than 15 minutes before a scheduled appointment. The agency asks that applicants not attend scheduled interviews if they are ill, but rather reschedule appointments per the instructions on the appointment notice. Applicants will not be penalized for rescheduling an appointment due to illness.

 

USCIS specified the following plans:

 

USCIS will send notices to applicants with previously scheduled appointments and interviews, and will automatically reschedule necessary Application Support Center appointments that were canceled by issuing a new appointment letter in the mail. This includes biometrics appointments and interviews for Adjustment of Status.

 

The agency will reschedule postponed naturalization ceremonies. Naturalization ceremonies will be shortened to limit exposure and visitors permitted to attend ceremonies will be limited.

 

Asylum interviews that were canceled due to temporary office closure will be rescheduled and will be video-facilitated to maintain social distancing.

 

If you have any questions about the status of your canceled interview or appointment, please contact your Graham Adair representative.